After months of debate, the 2015-16 school calendar for the School District of Clintonville was approved.
Approval of the calendar passed by a 4-2 vote at the Clintonville School Board meeting, Monday, Jan. 26. Board members Jim Schultz and Pat Schley voted no. Board member Jim Dins was excused from the meeting.
During the discussion Clintonville School District Superintendent Tom O’Toole told the board that changes were made to the previously proposed calendars based on feedback from school staff.
O’Toole said there are no in-service days in early August, as was proposed in the last calendar presented to the board. The first teacher in-service days are Aug. 17-19. O’Toole said the district has included three flexible work days in the calendar.
“We’re looking at giving them (teachers) some options,” O’Toole said.
The calendar also includes two parent teacher conferences times, O’Toole said. The first is Nov. 12 from 4:30-8 p.m. The second is Nov. 13 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
The calendar also included no school the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. No school is also on the calendar for the day between semesters, O’Toole said.
He added that there are fewer inservice days scheduled in this calendar than the previously proposed calendars.
O’Toole said the reason school had been planned on those days in the previously proposed calendar was in an effort to end the school year before Memorial Day. The calendar presented to and passed by the board has the last day of school for students scheduled for Thursday, June 2. The last day of instruction for seniors is scheduled for Friday, May 27, with graduation scheduled for Saturday, May 28 at 1:30 p.m.
The calendar includes three floating professional development days for teachers. O’Toole said the administration is recommending elementary school teachers use two of those days to do home visits. It was recommended teachers for grades 7 through 12 use one of those three days to do home visits.
The calendar includes 179 days for students, which is one less student day than the previously proposed calendars. O’Toole said he’d like to stay at 180 student days, but in order to make this calendar work, the district had to drop one day.
Schultz asked how many minutes of instruction students would be receiving throughout the year.
O’Toole said he wasn’t sure on that figure, as the district is researching changing the length of its school days for next year.
Schultz said he feels the district is continually “dumping” things on teachers.
“The teachers are absolutely overbooked. … It’d be nice if we could get them a little break when we could,” Schultz said.
Schultz also expressed concern about the floating professional development days. He said he couldn’t find any documentation on how they originally got included in the calendar, and how they are supposed to be used.
“I wasn’t on the board at that time, but I’m embarrassed the board would have approved something like that when we don’t even know what it was,” Schultz said.
He added that the floating professional development days could be a good thing, but he’d like to know exactly what they are.
Schultz also claimed a lot of the new teachers in the district are upset because they didn’t know about these things in their contract.
“These people are looking for new jobs already because they’re so upset by the way they’ve been treated,” Schultz said.
Until the requirements were known for the floating days, Schultz said he was reluctant to vote for the proposed calendar.
Extra meetings and long meetings after school were also a concern for teachers, according to Schultz.
Jeff See, middle school associate principal, said the floating days are designed to allow staff to have flexibility. He said that the administration has discussed for hours at its meetings how to give teachers more choices.
“The floating days are the best way to be able to offer them choice,” See said.
He said the administration is trying to honor the time teachers put in and it is trying to give them time to work on things.
Scott Werfal, middle school principal, said he didn’t see why the floating days are an issue.
“We have 192 teacher days. There’s 189 days that they have to be here. The three floating days, they’re not on the schedule, so we’re giving them time that they normally would have been here doing it,” Werfal said.
Schultz said in his opinion, teachers spend double the time that is required of them.
O’Toole said he disagreed with the statement that the administration doesn’t trust the teachers.
“I don’t think that’s true at all,” O’Toole said.
Board President Dirk Weber interrupted the debate, stating that it was getting off topic.
Weber added that he liked the idea of floating professional development days.
Schley questioned who was keeping track of the activities all the teachers are doing to fulfill the requirements for the floating days. She said if someone doesn’t keep track, there may be attempts to bypass the system.
“I don’t think we’re as worried about people trying not to do it as you’re thinking might happen, ” See said. “We’ve got this new administration team here, a number of us from different districts. We have seen when you trust your teachers and when you let them take charge of that learning, they do.”
Lynette Edwards, business manager for the Clintonville School District, said it made her sad to hear all the assumptions that what teachers and the administrative team are doing, are seen as less trusting.
“I don’t know where this poison is spreading from, that this has to do with not trusting our teachers,” Edwards said.
She said the administrative team does trust the teachers in the district.
Schley said teachers have families that they want to be with, but a lot of extra time is required to fulfill their obligations to the district.
“A career is great, but what the hell is more important,” Schley asked.
Schultz asked the administrative team if they had to fill out all the paperwork teachers do.
Clintonville High School principal Lance Bagstad said administrators don’t get floating professional development days because they have year-round contracts.
“We signed up for it and I’ll never complain about the hours I put in because that’s what I signed up for,” Werfal.
Werfal added that he also has three young children. At that point Weber ended the discussion and put approval of the calendar to a vote.
Bagstad informed the board that the Clintonville School District and Marion School District are interested in forming a co-op wrestling program. To get that approved by the WIAA, the co-op must be approved by the school boards of both districts by April.
Bagstad said the district is looking from guidance from the board if it is interested in pursuing a co-op, and if so, how it wants to split the financial arrangements. A co-op with Marion would be beneficial to Clintonville because of the low numbers on the current wrestling team, Bagstad said.
After some discussion the board recommended pursuing a co-op wrestling program with Marion. It recommended charging the Marion School District a percentage of the total cost to run the wrestling program, based on how many Marion students participate in the wrestling program.
Weber said it is the goal of the district to give opportunities to students, and a co-op would accomplish that goal.
The board unanimously approved three extra-curricular resignations, effective immediately. They included: Lindsay Davis as middle school assistant track coach, Mark Sparks as JV assistant football coach, and Josh Jacobsen as JV assistant football coach.
The board also unanimously approved five extra-curricular hires, effective immediately. They included: Stacey Flannery and Alesha Flannery as middle school assistant track coachs in a shared position, Sparks as freshman assistant football coach, Jacobsen as freshman football coach, and Jim Ash as JV assistant football coach.
Board members and administrators who attended the WASB/WASBO/WASDA Convention shared some of their experiences, and what they learned.